Today's interview takes place with Jeffrey Pierce in honor of his book The Awakening hitting "shelves" today. It should be live on Amazon and Smashwords (I didn't use links since I am probably sitting in a plane right now and had to pre-schedule this post lol). There is still the option to check out his website and pick up an autographed copy for only $15 as well.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I began writing short stories the moment that I learned to write. Where most kids leave Lego’s strewn around the house, I'd leave hand-written pages, bits and pieces of stories that I'd created. Just before graduation, my high school writing teacher handed me a letter that he'd written, encouraging me to pursue a career as a writer. It was then that I realized that I could do something with my passion.
If you are not a full time writer what do you do to pay the bills?
After eleven years working in IT, my wife and I switched places. I'm a stay at home father and run the kids to and from school. In the spaces that my schedule provides, I take care of the domestic end of things and write.
What was your route to Indie authoring?
I've actually been represented by two different literary agencies and, while we had some close calls, we weren't able to place any of my manuscripts. My manuscripts have been read by a pretty wide circle of friends and co-workers, who in turn passed them on to their friends and family. One day I decided, "The only regret I'll ever have is looking back and having not published my novels on my own." I have a background in graphic design and my wife has laid out countless publications for different employers, so we put our heads together and gave it a shot. We make a pretty good team.
Any tips for your fellow Indie authors?
The first thing I'd encourage my fellow indie authors to do is to think outside of the box. My wife and I are constantly coming up to each other and saying, "I have this idea." No matter how crazy it may sound, if it brings your book to a larger audience, it's worth taking your time to explore.
I'd also recommend using the Internet. We blog, twitter, use Facebook - any medium where you can tell more people, "Hey! I've got this book." Don't be afraid to blow your own horn on these sites. If you get a good review, let your online social networks know. We encourage everyone who reads Escaping Destiny to write a review.
But most importantly, remember that your readers aren't just "fans" - they're customers. It's important to always be polite, always be gracious, and to always say thank you for each little thing they do. They'll remember and tell other people about your book. Good customer service is not only effective, it's free.
What served as your inspiration for Escaping Destiny?
As strange as it may sound, I was in the mood to read something and couldn't find a book that caught my imagination - so I wrote one! The concept behind Escaping Destiny is pretty simple. In so many fantasy novels, there's a prophesy that everyone strives to fulfill. What would happen if those who were prophesied about said, "Nope. Not gonna happen," and went their own way? Could they escape their destiny? Or would the very act of trying to avoid it be the road that eventually fulfilled the prophecy.
What other work do you have available?
Escaping Destiny is my first novel and the first book in the Tapestry Trilogy. It was released in February. My next novel (The Awakening) comes out in May with a third coming out in November.
What sites is your work available on?
Escaping Destiny is available through Amazon.com and SmashWords. The first three chapters of the novel are available to read for free on my site, www.virtual-coffee.com
Are you currently working on anything new and if so when can we expect to see it?
My next novel is called, The Awakening, and comes out in May. It's the first book in a separate trilogy, a modern day supernatural thriller about the end of reality. In November, a modern day fairy tale called, Remembering Tomorrow, will be released. Each February and May I'll be releasing another installment of the respective trilogies with a stand-alone novel published each November.
Are there any authors that you really look up to?
When I have the time to read, I tend to pick up non-fiction titles. Science and history are both passions of mine. The fiction writer I found most influential was the young adult novelist, Susan Cooper, who wrote the award winning Dark Is Rising series. I picked up the fourth book in the series, The Grey King, when I was in sixth grade, not knowing that it was part of a larger sequence. The way that she took Welsh mythology and wove it into a modern setting really appealed to me. I was hooked from the very first chapter.
What do you see the biggest challenge in being an Indie author as?
The biggest challenge in being an Indie author is the lack of exposure. So far readers have absolutely raved about Escaping Destiny. It's jokingly being referred to as, "The fantasy novel you'll sacrifice sleep to read." My wife and I are marketing my novels on a shoestring budget and it's a constant challenge to widen our available audience. We're intentionally looking beyond immediate sales and exposure and positioning ourselves to have a larger audience when the sequels come out.
Do you have a homepage/blog/twitter/facebook etc... that fans can follow your progress or contact you at?
All three actually.
What is your favorite book/series?
I love Startide Rising by David Brin. The novel is filled with concepts that I wish I would have thought of. It's one of my personal reminders to write in directions that have yet to be explored.
Are there any specific sites that you visit for advice or inspiration?
As much as I use it as a networking tool, I spend surprisingly little time online. Most of my inspiration for story ideas comes from watching documentaries and reading non-fiction. Nature is pretty amazing in all of its diversity and I'll often find my imagination captured by a scene, wondering about the animal's perspective, why it behaves in a certain way.
I consciously look outside of literary channels for advice on how to market my novels. For instance, I'll read articles on how independent video game companies are getting the word out about their projects long before I'll read about how books are being marketed. My thinking is that it’s very easy for an indie author to get lost in the crowd if they follow everyone else. However, if they take an approach completely outside of the mainstream, they just might have a chance to get noticed.
Which of your characters do you relate to the most? Why?
All of my close friends immediately chime in with, “Jeffrey, Kai is so you.” Out of all of the characters that I’ve written, he’s the closest mirror of my base personality. Kai is a warrior with a big heart, his path grounded in philosophy and his missteps generally happen only when his emotions get the best of him. We discover that he makes the “hard but right choice” when confronted with a challenge, often at a fairly high cost that only he can pay. I walk the same “gentle warrior” path that Kai embraces, which is the natural combination of being a traditional trained shaman with a background in military special operations. Kai is a little more patient than I am; I’m a little more grounded than he is. That said, we’re a very close reflection of each other.
Kai kind of took main stage in the first book. Will that trend continue or will the other books focus more on the others?
When I read a series of novels, it often seems that the author wrote the first book and then asked themselves, “What should I write about for a sequel?” Escaping Destiny is akin to the first act in a play. Not only does the tale continue to build with each subsequent novel, but each character has their own story arc that spans numerous books. Kai played such a prominent role in the first book primarily because he’s a natural leader and had to guide those under his care through a difficult situation. As other characters come into their own and are called upon, they come to the forefront of the story. Both the half-mer, Beltross, and the young warrior woman, Traela, will have significantly expanded roles in the second book.
Is there a teaser available about book
2 in the series yet?
Nothing yet, simply because I’m focusing on my next two novels that are coming out before the second book in the Tapestry series is published. I haven’t even talked about it on my own blog yet, so you can consider the following something of a scoop.
The second book in the series, Lost Within, begins two years after the end of Escaping Destiny. Kai and Ko’laru have given up the warrior’s path to start a family and Ko’laru is pregnant with the couple’s first child. We discover that the pieces of prophecy that the characters followed in Escaping Destiny were only part of a much larger foretelling known only to certain sects of mystics and completely unknown to Kai. The philosophy of non-intervention adopted by the maat has changed since the concept of healing themselves has entered their collective subconscious. Conflicts begin to break out, threatening full-scale war as the maat begin to assert their authority and position themselves to take over the world of Tapestry.
In the second book in the series, we’ll learn more about Beltross and visit his mother’s people (the mer), Traela will step into her own and be sent as an emissary to the maat, and Leiron will discover that her power has grown as she hits puberty, her abilities maturing with her physical body. Both Caraine and Sovay will be back. Kai and Ko’laru will both have prominent roles, but they’ll share the spotlight as other characters come to the forefront.
Did any part of your spiritual quest as a young man play a part in the shaping of Escaping Destiny?
Only in small ways. My next novel, The Awakening (which publishes on May 13th), was heavily influenced by that quest. When I was seventeen years old, I decided to discover the divine for myself. Twenty years later, having deeply explored most of the world’s major religions and been trained as a shaman by a Native American woman, I had enough answers to begin making sense of what I had seen, learned, and experienced firsthand. A lot of Kai’s warrior philosophy, for instance, is a combination of Eastern perspective and traditional shamanism.
As we move deeper into the series, more of my background will appear in the novels. For instance, Lost Within will begin to show the juxtaposition between how a shaman see the spirits of land and sea, illustrated in the unique cultures of the mer and the fae. Integrating my own path in that way gives me an additional pallet of colors to draw upon when I paint a scene. I really enjoy creating passages that unfold into greater implications as the reader reflects back upon them.
Any news on Remembering Tomorrow?
I’m finishing up my pre-publication checklist for The Awakening and then I’ll be shifting my focus to Remembering Tomorrow (November). At its heart, Remembering Tomorrow is a love story – with a very significant twist. Inspired by an old Celtic fairy tale, the main character escapes from another realm only to find that the modern world has moved on without him. Michael left behind our modern world and returns to discover that more than sixty years have passed and society has fractured. What’s more is that his fiancé is living in this world – just as he left her – but she has a different name and has no memory of Michael. In the midst of it all, a way of life is threatened and the other realm appears to reclaim Michael as their own. The tagline is, “If you believe, your love will span lifetimes.”
Do you have any plans on mapping the world of Tapestry?
When I sat down to write Escaping Destiny, the first book in the Tapestry series, I based the geography on my native
Pacific Northwest. Starting with a survey map of the western that was drawn in 1848 and dumping it into Photoshop, I’ve slowly been adapting the map to fit the world of Tapestry. United States
One of the challenges in writing Escaping Destiny was adhering to the geographic scale of the story. The characters move from place to place on foot, which limited the story to a range of about one hundred miles. If you picture the
, Escaping Destiny took place in a very small area of United States , a distance that a person could cover in about a week. By the time that the series, which has been extended to eight books, draws to a close, the map will stretch from the Oregon Pacific Ocean to the eastern part of and from the Canadian border well into Montana . California
The first map is finished and on my site. (http://www.virtual-coffee.com/books/edestiny/edmap.html) As each new novel in the series is published, the map will be expanded to include the new areas featured in that portion of the story.
For an Indie author you have a pretty good number of reviews (19). Is there anything you recommend to get readers to leave them?
All of the credit for that goes to the readers – every last bit of it. There are truly exceptional people reading Escaping Destiny that are absolutely passionate about the novel. On the few occasions that someone has emailed me about Escaping Destiny and I’ve politely asked if they would mind writing a review, they have consistently replied, “I already have.” And sure enough, when I check, there’s a new review. I am immensely grateful to my readers – so much so that they are the first people that I thank in the acknowledgements of every novel I write.
If you could be any animal what would you be and why?
That’s a very interesting question to ask a shaman! Part of the traditional shamanic approach to working with totem animals (very roughly translated to read “the animal’s spirit”) is to imitate the animal. I’ve stood on windy cliff tops with my arms spread to get a peek at what Hawk feels, raced downhill through the forest at breakneck speaks (dodging trees and hurtling logs) to understand Deer’s flight, and spent time learning canine body language to learn how Wolf communicates. I’m an avid backpacker and have spent time observing most North American wildlife in their natural habitat.
To be completely honest, I’d choose “human.” We have our own version of a pack, have intensely interesting social customs, and an endless variety of ways to communicate. It’s the one animal I could choose where I could swim with dolphins and whales one day, run with wolves the next, and still be accepted by a herd of herbivores – be they bison, wild horses, or just the cows down the road. I like the versatility and ability to explore new horizons that “human” presents that can be found nowhere else in the animal kingdom.